“Man Of Peace” (1983)

 

The terminal rhymes in this song are consistent throughout; the pattern is a/a/b/cc.  The first is a wrenched rhyme, “catch”/”outstretched”–listen to how Dylan sings it to force a unity of sound.  The last two lines of each verse have words that rhyme with “peace,” so that word is sounded and echoed throughout; those rhyming words are “priest,” “grease,” “Police,” “least,” “feast,” “beast,” “cease,” and “East,” a collection that ebbs and flows between unrest and peace.

Each middle line of each five line verse has no rhyme.  Here’s how they’d be together as one verse:

Could be the Führer

Good intentions can be evil

Nobody can see through him

He could be standing next to you

I can smell something cooking

He’ll put both his arms around you

Wanna get married? Do it now

And he’s following a star

What I like from doing this is how the variety of pronouns stand out for me more: the silent “He” in the first line (lots of imperatives opening each line–“YOU Look out your window . . .” the song begins), nobody, him, he, you, I, he, you, silent “You” in the seventh line, he.

He’s everywhere, this man of peace, and we’re all involved.  Sometimes with Dylan what doesn’t rhyme matters as much as what rhymes, or both or neither.  The pleasure in this is that Dylan is playing with words and sound, and we can play, too, his songs, and with him.

Here”s Dylan singing it with The Grateful Dead in 1987.

Look out your window, baby, there’s a scene you’d like to catch
The band is playing “Dixie,” a man got his hand outstretched
Could be the Führer
Could be the local priest
You know sometimes Satan comes as a man of peace

He got a sweet gift of gab, he got a harmonious tongue
He knows every song of love that ever has been sung
Good intentions can be evil
Both hands can be full of grease
You know that sometimes Satan comes as a man of peace

Well, first he’s in the background, then he’s in the front
Both eyes are looking like they’re on a rabbit hunt
Nobody can see through him
No, not even the Chief of Police
You know that sometimes Satan comes as a man of peace

Well, he catch you when you’re hoping for a glimpse of the sun
Catch you when your troubles feel like they weigh a ton
He could be standing next to you
The person that you’d notice least
I hear that sometimes Satan comes as a man of peace

Well, he can be fascinating, he can be dull
He can ride down Niagara Falls in the barrels of your skull
I can smell something cooking
I can tell there’s going to be a feast
You know that sometimes Satan comes as a man of peace

He’s a great humanitarian, he’s a great philanthropist
He knows just where to touch you, honey, and how you like to be kissed
He’ll put both his arms around you
You can feel the tender touch of the beast
You know that sometimes Satan comes as a man of peace

Well, the howling wolf will howl tonight, the king snake will crawl
Trees that’ve stood for a thousand years suddenly will fall
Wanna get married? Do it now
Tomorrow all activity will cease
You know that sometimes Satan comes as a man of peace

Somewhere Mama’s weeping for her blue-eyed boy
She’s holding them little white shoes and that little broken toy
And he’s following a star
The same one them three men followed from the East
I hear that sometimes Satan comes as a man of peace

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